Gender Segregation and French Laïcité

The small town of La Verpillière, near Lyon in central France, caused a national uproar when it opened its municipal pool during off-hours for a “women’s only” swimming session. Critics immediately argued that by accomodating the town’s Turkish (read Muslim) minority, the town had violated France’s code of “laïcité,” or separation of government and religion. The only problem being that the session was organized by the town’s outreach services, not the Turkish community, and the participants were women of all religions (and perhaps more significantly, according to the organizers, of all ages), many of whom had refrained from using the […]

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